Coast Residents Gather To Welcome Cole Home

Just after sunrise, Beach Boulevard started filling up with people who wanted to welcome the USS Cole back to Pascagoula. Several organizations pitched in to make the Cole's crew feel at home with banners and lots of flags.

For long-time Pascagoula resident Betty Winstead the Cole's arrival was away to pay tribute the 17 crew members who were killed.

"My heart goes out to the 17 who didn't come back," she said.

The Cole passed within a few hundred yards of spectators on the Point. The site overwhelmed almost everyone, especially people like Bethew Jenkins who helped build the Cole at Ingalls seven years ago.

"I actually shed a tear because I retired from the ship yard, and I did weight and moment calculations on this ship," Jenkins said.  "She's home now, and we'll take care of her."

Many of Pascagoula's residents say they feel a personnel connection to the Cole.  They are also proud the people who built her will get her ready to go back to sea.

"It left with a little of all us in it, and for that reason the men and woman of Ingalls ship building with a commitment and resolved we have never seen before," Pascagoula Mayor Joe Cole said.